Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Historic Roadside Properties

on Minnesota Highways

Current projects

Graeser Park
Wall repair and covered tables
Rebuilt table
Beehive base
Beehive oven
Overlook wall
Rock garden

Location: West of Hwy 100 between Broadway Ave and Bottineau Blvd, on Lakeland Ave in Robbinsdale, MN

Not Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (Previously eligible.)

Original Construction: 1940-41

Designed by: Arthur R. Nichols, Consulting Landscape Architect

Constructed by: Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Proposed Scope: Stone masonry repair or stabilization at the overlook wall, “beehive” oven, and rock garden trail at the E and of the rock garden and as needed where stones are loose. Replacement of disassembled stone picnic tables and benches from existing salvaged materials. Vegetation removals including trees impacting rock garden and invasive shrub removal. Interpretive sign and potential volunteer involvement with new plantings.

Construction Update: work has been completed in three different projects in the summer of 2021:

  1. Tree removal: 4 “volunteer” trees growing in the rock garden were removed in March 2021. Two of these trees were growing in paths and 2 were growing close to a bench built in the embankment.
  2. Stone picnic table restoration-Northern Bedrock Historic Conservation Corps. The Corps members worked with a technical expert from Advanced Masonry Restoration to repoint two picnic table pads, clean off another pad, and rebuild one picnic table from salvaged stone in the rock garden. They also did small repairs on the overlook wall. Work was completed in July 2021.
  3. Stone Mason Contract- Environmental Associates Inc was the low bidder to do the contract to rebuild 10 tables, re-point 9 pads, and repair and repoint the beehive.  Work took place during the month of October 2021. Five picnic pads and rebuilt tables were completed. Work will resume and be completed in Spring of 2022.

Timeline: Summer 2021 and spring 2022

Additional information: This site is intended to be conveyed to the City of Robbinsdale after beehive repairs and reconstruction of tables (removed by MnDOT and salvaged) are completed. A full rehabilitation of the site and rock garden is not planned by MnDOT.

Highway Sponsorship potential volunteer partner has been identified.

Old Lilac Park, also known as “Rock Island” or “Monkey Island”

Rock garden before tree removal
Rock garden after tree removal
Rock garden from NW
Wooded corner from NW

Location: Hwy 100 at Minnetonka Blvd (NE quadrant west of Toledo Ave and between West 28th Street and West 29th Street), St. Louis Park, MN

Not Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places

Original Construction: 1938-39

Designed by: Arthur R. Nichols, Consulting Landscape Architect

Constructed by: Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Current Condition: This site has been substantially altered by several highway development and other projects. Most of the stone structures on the site were moved to the St Louis Park Roadside Parking Area at TH 100 and MN 7 (SE quadrant), which was re-named “Lilac Park.” This included the beehive fireplace, as well as several stone tables. A small rock-lined round pond on the south end of the site was removed at an unknown date.

The site still retains a rock garden near the new sound wall north of W 29th St. and some loose segments of a former wall This rock garden is sunken into the ground and accessed via two stone stairs. A stone sheet waterfall once filled the stone lined concrete basin with water. The island has a concrete slab bridge to access it. The island once had a weeping willow growing on it. The garden is surrounded by low stone retaining walls and is surrounded with planting beds with stone edging. A stone bench built into the earth with a tall back offers a place to sit and view the garden and island.

Proposed Scope: A full rehabilitation of this site is not possible. Instead, minimal moves to support visitor safety and accessibility are planned along with ongoing vegetation management. Existing lilacs still grow along the Toledo and West 28th St corner of the park. These may be the only existing original lilac plantings of “Lilac Way.”

Removal of diseased, damaged, volunteer and invasive trees and shrubs near the rock garden and in NE corner of site was completed in March 2021. Existing lilacs will be preserved. Modifications to path mowing may occur.

Supplemental shrub plantings may be added in the NE corner in the future. Enhancement of meadow with pollinator plants is also planned.

Masonry improvements may include: Repair of loose stone masonry in rock garden area for safety and to prevent ongoing deterioration. Reuse of stone wall segments. Add new concrete walk from existing trail to top of entry stairs for accessibility to view garden, add stone bench, interpretive signage.

Timeline: Tree and brush removal completed in March 2021, Stone repairs and accessibility work, TBD.

Additional Information: This project is on hold as discussions with the City of St. Louis Park are underway.

New Ulm Spring Roadside Parking Area Rehabilitation

Photo of stone wall at New Ulm Spring-May 2010.

Location: TH 14 approximately 1 mile south of intersection with TH 15 on east side of MN river near New Ulm.

Not Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (Previously eligible. Goal of project will be to improve integrity to increase its potential for eligible status)

Original Construction: 1938-39

Designed by: Arthur R. Nichols

Constructed by: National Youth Administration, a federal New Deal work relief program during the depression.

Photo of hillside at New Ulm Spring site.

Project background: This project will rehabilitate the New Ulm Spring Roadside Parking Area (Class IV Rest Area), which is part of the Historic Roadside Property Program. In the late 1990s, the site was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Properties, but in a 2014 reevaluation, was determined not eligible. The loss of eligibility was mainly for reasons of deterioration since the previous review. This project goal is to re-establish the integrity of the site and improve its potential eligibility. This is the only remaining WPA-era wayside in this part of the state (MnDOT District 7) and one of only 3 remaining sites in the Historic Roadside Property Program which were built around springs. All of them have been capped or disconnected. All work will follow the Secretary of Interior Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties.

Project Scope: Repair and repoint (removing and replacing mortar) the stone wall, replacing the gravel walk with a concrete walk, repaving the parking area, re-introducing the curbed island with  right in/right out one-way access. Repairing natural surface trails, stone steps and two picnic areas above the wall. Interpretation will be added and ADA accessibility improved by adding an accessible picnic table at the south end of the wall and curb ramps on the walkway. The spring outlet pipe will be stabilized, but water will not be restored due to contamination of the water source.

Vegetation management will include strategic removal of invasive shrubs such as buckthorn and invasive perennial plants such as garlic mustard, along with selective tree removal and pruning to open views of the river valley from the picnic areas on the hill.

Work will begin in spring of 2022. Work will be concurrent (but is a separate project) with road reconstruction on TH 14, called SP 5202-58. The site will be closed during construction as the TH14  construction will close the road.

Recent projects

Recent projects are completed, but still under contractor warranty. These projects may still have short duration warranty work and small repairs completed.

Granite Falls Overlook Rehabilitation

Granite Falls Overlook wall and sidewalk
Granite Falls wall repair
Granite Falls stairs beneath bridge
Granite Falls Overlook

Location: TH 212/23 on west side of MN River south of 212 river bridge in Granite Falls, MN.

Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (Contributing to Granite Falls Memorial Park)

Original Construction: 1938

Designed by: Arthur R. Nichols

Constructed by: Minnesota Department of Highways Staff and federal relief program workers.

2021 Project Scope: Granite Falls Overlook Rehabilitation; the overlook wall was repointed (replace deteriorated mortar between stones), benches were repaired, walkways were repaired, the gravel plaza surface was replaced with concrete, and stone curb was repointed, new trees were planted, and an interpretative sign was added. All work followed the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation.

At a separate location in Granite Falls Veteran’s Memorial Park, Repointing on the south wing wall of the entrance to Granite Falls Memorial Park on TH 67 was completed. This part of the entry structure is in the MnDOT right of way.

This project was completed in September 2021. Ongoing warranty and maintenance activities will be ongoing for 1-2 years.

Lake City and Reads Landing Maintenance and Repairs (2020)

Before veneer collapse
After south of concourse
After south corner
During upper and veneer walls
S of concourse
Reads Landing

Reads Landing is Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Location: TH 61 approximately 9 miles southeast of Lake City Concourse

Original Construction: 1939

Designed by: A. R. Nichols, attributed

Constructed by: National Youth Administration

2020 Rehabilitation included Work will include the rehabilitation of the brick and stone overlook, plaque repairs and restoring a stone retaining wall on the upland side of the overlook.

Lake City is Eligible for Listing on the National Register of Historic Places

Location: TH 61 in Lake City south of W. Elm Street.

Original Construction: 1938-40

Designed by: A. R. Nichols, attributed

Constructed by: National Youth Administration (1940 phase)

2020 Rehabilitation included repointing and stone replacement at the stone overlook and walls adjacent to TH 61, repair of flagstone paving areas and some sidewalk replacements. Interpretive signage was restored.

Whipholt Roadside Parking Area (2020)

Whipholt picnic area
Whipholt wall joint
Whipholt before north wall

Eligible for listing on the National register of Historic Places
Whipholt RPA

Location: TH 200 approximately 0.5 mile east of 16th Ave (CR2108) on the south shore of Leech Lake

Original Construction: 1941, resumed and completed 1951

Designed by: Arthur Nichols, attributed

Constructed by: WPA and Minn. Dept. of Highways

2020 Project scope: included restoration of the stone overlook wall, improve interpretive elements and signage, repave the access road and parking area (within the existing paved area limits) and add plantings , picnic tables and a portable toilet screen.

Gooseberry Falls Concourse Rehabilitation (2019)

Gooseberry Falls Concourse Rehabilitation
Gooseberry Falls Concourse Rehabilitation

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places under: Gooseberry Falls State Park CCC/Rustic Style Historic Resources, an Historic District, as a contributing feature in 1989

Original Construction: 1936-40

Designed by: Edward W. Barber

Constructed by: Civilian Conservation Corps

2019 Rehabilitation Project completed safety and accessibility improvements to the historic concourse and bridge overlook and repointed the historic concourse structure (repointing is the replacement of the mortar between the stones). The concourse plaza and overlook plaza was cleared of vegetation and gravel placed in original parking area with the Gitchi Gami trail running through is lined by trees and grasses to distinguish it as new. The bridge monument was moved from the plaza to the north side of the river. The Upper plaza (former bridge abutment) was paved in concrete with a planting bed separating it from the road level gravel concourse.

Before and after photo gallery

Pine-Hickory Lakes Roadside Parking Area (2019)

Pine-Hickory Lakes Roadside Parking Area

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Pine-Hickory (PDF) (link to inventory form)
Original Construction: 1938

Designed by: Arthur Nichols, Consulting Landscape Architect

Constructed by: National Youth Administration (NYA)

2019 Project included restoration of several historic stone features, repaving the parking area with accessibility improvements to the picnic area, portable toilets and addition of a new fishing pier will be installed by the DNR on Little Pine Lake. An existing paved trail was repaved to a fire ring on Little Pine Lake, while other trails to an overlook, fire ring and walk in canoe launch on Hickory Lake remain turf.

Read more about the site on this link to the new interpretive sign:

Whitefish Creek Bridge Rehabilitation (Bridge 3355)

Whitefish Creek Bridge Rehabilitation (Bridge 3355)

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Original Construction: 1939

Designed by: Arthur Nichols, Consulting Landscape Architect and National Park Service

Constructed by: Civilian Conservation Corps

2019 Project included rehabilitation of the stone bridge, stone bridge abutments, flagstone walks and guardrail stone wall. The bridge deck and approach lanes were reconstructed and an integral Wyoming guardrail will be installed.

Future projects

TH 301 at St. Cloud State Reformatory Retaining Wall Rehabilitation

Wall A from East, fall 2019

Contributing feature within a Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Original Construction: 1930s
Designed by: Unknown
Constructed by: St Cloud Reformatory Workers

Wall B with dislodged cap stones, summer 2019

Project Planning Information: This wall retains TH 301 adjacent to the visitor’s entrance, and retains adjacent ground in another segment. Walls of similar design follow visitor entry road and the road to the yard entrance.

The walls will be rebuilt using the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation or Restoration. Protection of the wall may include new curbing or guardrails. New storm water drainage will also be designed. There may be temporary traffic impacts to the trunk highway as well as to various entrances.

Temporary repairs were made to Wall A east of the prison entrance in fall of 2019 to ensure the road was stabilized in this area. These temporary measures will be removed when the full restoration is completed. 

How do we select projects for rehabilitation?

New projects are selected via an established project ranking process, which is outlined in the project selection page or to policy and to Capital Highway Investment Plan (CHIP) and State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

Projects to repair vandalism or vehicle damage are worked into the rehabilitation program as soon as possible.